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TikTok and ByteDance File Suit Challenging Constitutionality of Ban

TikTok and its parent company ByteDance filed a lawsuit Tuesday (May 7) asking the court to review the constitutionality of a law that requires ByteDance to sell TikTok’s U.S. business or have it shut down.

“That law — the Protecting Americans From Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act (“the Act”) — is unconstitutional,” the companies said in the lawsuit, according to a copy of the suit posted on TikTok’s website. “Banning TikTok is so obviously unconstitutional, in fact, that even the Act’s sponsors recognized that reality, and therefore have tried mightily to depict the law not as a ban at all, but merely a regulation of TikTok’s ownership.”

President Joe Biden signed the law targeting the social media platform April 24, days after it was passed by the House and Senate. Supporters of the measure argued that the threat of a ban is necessary for national security concerns.

TikTok said the same day that the law was unconstitutional and that the company would challenge it in court.

The measure gives ByteDance nine months to a year to sell TikTok or see it banned in the U.S.

In their lawsuit filed Tuesday, ByteDance and TikTok said that this “qualified divestiture” is not possible — commercially, technologically or legally — and certainly not within that time frame.

“There is no question: the Act will force a shutdown of TikTok by January 19, 2025, silencing the 170 million Americans who use the platform to communicate in ways that cannot be replicated elsewhere,” the companies said in the lawsuit.

It was reported April 26 that ByteDance said it will not sell its U.S. TikTok business, even if it loses its legal battle in the U.S. The company would rather shut down that business than sell it, though it will first pursue legal efforts to fight the legislation.

Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday that he considered buying TikTok but has moved on from that idea. “I’m not currently looking at that. I looked at it for a while,” Schmidt said, according to a Bloomberg report.

The report added that ByteDance is unlikely to sell the algorithm used by the TikTok app, and that the Chinese government would have to approve any such deal.